On paper the Ocean 60 sounds like an antiquated schooner character boat from the 1970’s and early 1980’s. But closer inspection reveals what can be aptly called a modern, racing schooner, eminently suitable for long-distance cruising with her sea kindly qualities and simple rig. The legendary British manufacturer Southern Ocean Shipyards – with the unfortunate acronym SOS – opened shop at their Poole, England yard (near Southhampton on the south coast) in the mid 1960’s. The first production boat off the line was a 53-foot Van De Stadt design in 1967. In the 1970’s, they produced about 25 hulls of the Ocean 71 which was lofted directly from Van De Stadt’s famous Stormvogel yacht, the first ocean maxi. In the late 1970’s, Southern Ocean produced smaller racers including a 36-footer by J. de Ridder and the 30 Contention by Doug Peterson. According to brokerage records the Ocean 60’s were built between 1980 and 1982. After which, the yard produced 62-foot Van De Stadt and 80-foot Peterson designs until around 1985.
The Ocean 60 design is by little known Poole architect Richard Roscoe and builder George Stead. Dockside besides her 75-foot schooner rig, the Ocean 60 has all the trappings of the raked bowed and sugar scooped sterned yachts that roll off the production lines these days. She even has a raised saloon deck mold with large doghouse windows all around. Hull detailing usually includes a thin cove stripe and her name forward. Her flush deck accentuates her subtle sheerline though limits headroom down below. On some models, the rocket ship stern has a swing out teak lined swim platform and ladder in the transom skirt lowerable by an aft deck block system. Underneath Roscoe and Stead gave her a deep fin keel drafting 8-feet and a skeg hung rudder.
The hull is hand-laid solid fiberglass reinforced with transverse floors as well as two foam-cored longitudinal stringers running the full length of the hull on both port and starboard sides. Laminate thickness ranges from approximately 1-1/2″ at the keel to 3/8″ at the sheer. The deck also is solid laminate, reinforced with foam-cored transverse and longitudinal stringers. High stress deck areas (mooring cleats, hatch openings, mast partners, etc) are reinforced with mahogany plywood coring and additional laminate thickness. Some areas are reinforced by aluminum plate (cockpit winches, turning blocks, steering pedestal, bow platform). The keel is external cast iron, faired with fiberglass laminate, and secured through substantial keel floors and backing plates with twelve one-inch bolts. Both the spars are keel stepped.
There are two separate deck accessible quarters forward. The first is a foc’sle with room for sail and line stowage as well as a work area. The second might feature crew berths and the laundry along with the mast step for the forward spar. Above, the deck is flush speckled by dorades and ventilators. Amidships the cabin trunk rises up for the raised saloon accommodations below. There is minimal brightwork on deck (caprail, handrails, and cockpit grating) highlighting the modern approach of Southern Ocean Shipyards. Her sailplan is a ridiculously simple schooner rig with single headsail lead aft around the sheerline shrouds and through the likewise mounted sail track. The aft cockpit is deep and secure, typical of a serious offshore boat of this vintage with long enough benches to lay down on. There are two lazarettes abaft the cockpit which provide access to the steering components.
There are multiple different layout, at least three by my count. The most owner friendly features a full width master stateroom forward followed by a portside bunk berth cabin paired with a starboardside galley. A few steps up is a comfortable raised saloon with settees on both sides. Aftmost to port is a nav station and to starboard a quarter berth. The other layouts are more charter oriented, two examples of which are the layouts attached to this review. All feature fine interior veneer and solid teak touches. A valid critique for above 6-foot tall sailors is the average headroom forward due to the flush foredeck.
Room for the generator is under the cockpit with access available from a starboard insert, a little tight to work on. The diesel is mounted below the raised saloon and while originally a Ford Sabre, may be repowered to a 4 cylinder Yanmar in the range of 110 to 180 HP. Fuel is carried in integral fiberglass tanks located under the saloon sole port and starboard with large access ports for gauging fuel level and for tank cleaning. If she does not feature one, a handy upgrade would be a bow thruster to ease docking difficulties.
There is no questioning the seaworthiness of the Ocean 60 series. One brokerage listing boasted of making 20 Atlantic crossings! Southern Ocean Shipyards knew what they wanted and did not of their yachts. The Ocean 60 along with her 71-foot sistership are proven passagemakers bred for high performance offshore sailing. The schooner rig on the 60 is easily handed by two and 200 nautical mile days are common.
The Ocean 60 series is world reknown for their ocean crossing capabilities. They uniquely feature schooner sail plans with modern design and build techniques. If you are looking for a serious offshore boat, need three or four staterooms, and can accommodate 8′ draft, you might consider these yachts. Looking at the brokerage market, two 60’s are available at $350,000 and $500,000.